One of the biggest appeals of the Tesla Model S is access to the fast charging and, more importantly, free Supercharging network. These can top off an 85 kWh Model S in less than an hour at no cost to the owner, and Teslarati reports that the Silicon Valley automaker could one day off free at-home charging too.
How is that possible? It won’t be because Tesla’s coffers are overflowing with money, or because every home in the nation will use a SolarCity solar panel setup. Rather, Tesla could offer utilty companies grid regulation and stability services that would more than pay for the cost of charging an EV every night. Tesla will use these fees to pay for the cost of charging, and still pocket a significant profit for themselves. For EV owners, the only thing that will change is that you’ll tell your charging station when you need your car charged, and whether it needs a long range or regular charge.
Meanwhile, Tesla will let the utility fill up a surge in power loads in their connected batteries, distributing that stored energy while ensuring users have access to their cars when they need it. In this way, Tesla can give owners free home charging, as well as add an additional profit point for its operations. By switching on car chargers to store the extra energy, utilities can better rely on solar or wind power generation, rather than fossil fuels. This helps solve the problem of grid storage, and runs parallel to Solar City’s plan to provide battery backup systems to solar customers as well. Nobody said those batteries have to be stationary, right?
So when might this happen? No time soon I’m afraid, as the regulations and necessary technologies aren’t quite in place yet. By offering a means to refuel vehicles for free though, Tesla can continue to chip away at the price advantage traditional cars have, while making the notion of paying for your own fuel seem so 20th century.